“ABATWARAMAHORO” WOMEN PEACE CARRIERS/ GIZ
Rusizi District is located in Western Province of Rwanda and has two main borders post: Rusizi I and II, which are the main entry point between the towns of Kamembe (Rwanda) and Bukavu in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Rusizi I, located 20 km from Rusizi II, is mainly used by small informal traders, who cross the border on foot, while Rusizi II is primarily a cargo post where most border crossings are by vehicle and small traders on foot as well.
Research for Common Ground in its research (2020) confirms that between 1,000 and 1,200 Congolese and Rwandans cross over to Rwanda/DRC through Rusizi Border I and II just to purchase goods mainly foodstuffs. Their findings also show that half of this cross border trade is informal with 70%, scattered, without support of any CSO and being undertaken by vulnerable women. This cross-border trade is now seen as a response by the poor populations living in bordering communities, particularly women, to
economic constraints. However, those women face at both sides of the borders many challenges/barriers including GBV, discrimination, manipulation, corruption, double taxation, confiscation of their goods among others. On one hand, this is due to limited knowledge of their rights, cross border trade (CBT) policies and regulations which leaves them incredibly vulnerable. On other hand, it is related to tensions and loss of trust between border communities mostly caused by previous political conflicts between Rwanda and DRC. These are barriers against the
African Convention on Cross Border Cooperation adopted in 2014 by African leaders that borders must be bridges not barriers.
It is against this back ground that Réseau des Femmes Oeuvrant pour le Development Rural (Rwanda/Rusizi) and Guichet d’Economie Locale du Sud-Kivu (GEL), (partners in cross boarder programs especially aiming at peace building e.g Tushirikiwote project) after consulting Local authorities, opted to submit the cross-border cooperation project proposals to contribute to remove these barriers at both sides of Rusizi through empowering 120 women (60 in Rwanda and 60 in DRC) in informal cross border trade, non-organized and without any other support; borders surrounding community will be also targeted through community awareness on peace using local radio.
To ensure project success, Réseau des Femmes will implement the project in partnership with others partners: District of Rusizi, Community leaders, Women Council, Border Institutions including Direction General of Immigration and Emigration (DGIE), Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), Border Security Officers (BSO) including Police and Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), Rusizi District, ISANGE One Stop Centre, Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), Legal Institutions (Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), and other CivilSociety Organisations (CSOs) supporting women in cross border (Profemmes, Alert International, OIM). Border Institutions will partner
with us in sensitizing right holders on rules, customs and regulations during trainings and Radio talk shows. And at Bukavu side with GEL.